5 Takeaways from CANSCAIP’s 2015 PYI Conference

Usually I post my blog every two weeks. But because I posted two weeks in a row due to the Halloweensie contest, I decided to wait an extra week to post again after that treat. Here’s another treat: my wrap-up of CANSCAIP’s 2015 PYI conference. Now the CANSCAIP conference is always held in Toronto, which is close enough for me to drive there. We were on our way to the CANSCAIP conference, when we got stuck in traffic. It seems there was a huge accident. I thought, “Oh no, not again.” You may remember the trouble I had on the way to the SCBWI conference, though that time it was train trouble. Luckily we had left early, so that meant I was only 15 minutes late for the opening keynote. Because it was Loris Lesynski, I decided to sneak in. And so began my day of takeaways, five which I will share with you:

Loris Lesynski

Loris Lesynski at the 2015 CANSCAIP conference


1. Loris Lesynski is a writing superstar, so I really didn’t want to miss her talk. Luckily I managed to catch the second half. Loris is a very funny lady. It was interesting taking a peek into her life. She showed us her journals, and she also talked about how she is trying to declutter her journals. I guess decluttering is a hot topic everywhere! Loris talked about voice in her presentation.

Takeaway: If you are negative or sad or bossy, etc., that will come through in your writing. It is something we should be careful about.

One of my favourite books written by Loris (and my daughter loves it too) is called “Boy Soup”.

2. Literary Consultant Sally Keefe Cohen talked about how to negotiate contracts if you are in Canada and don’t have an agent. (Sorry, Americans, it is much harder to do in America.)

Sally apologized for the dry matter of the subject, but I (and others whom I talked to) disagreed. It is worth your while to bone up on basic contracts. Do yourself a favour and learn about royalties, permissions, and subsidiary rights.

Takeaway: Most importantly, don’t give away your copyright. You may grant temporary rights for a limited time period though. Make sure to consider all rights including print, ebook, and film rights.

Marsha Skrypuch

Marsha Skrypuch listens to her introduction at the CANSCAIP conference.

3. Marsha Skrypuch is an author whom I admire due to the fact that she writes about very difficult subjects in an engaging way.  Her subject was author visits. I was quite surprised when she confessed that her first author visit was “horrific”. She is a fantastic speaker, so it is hard to imagine that she would have trouble doing author talks.

Takeaway: You need to polish your author visits. It is unacceptable to give the audience a “first draft” of an author visit just like you would not give a first draft of your manuscript to an editor. So I guess I need to practice, practice, practice.

My favourite of her books is called “Making Bombs for Hitler”.

4. The next talk was done by a publishing panel of two agents and two editors.

Takeaway: The publishing panel had an interesting question tossed at them. Why would you tell an editor that a manuscript you are sending is a simultaneous submission? Would that not go against you? The answer was quite surprising to me. While one editor stated it might mean she would not read it, thinking someone else would look at it, both editors thought that it would actually make them read a manuscript faster, thinking that they might miss a gem. Huh!

5. Hugh Brewster has written several non-fiction books. I had never heard of him, but I want to read some of his books, especially this one about Anastasia:

Takeaway: He told us that writers shouldn’t be discouraged if publishers say something is not a good topic for children. That might all change tomorrow anyway.  Hugh should know, because he has written about several topics that you wouldn’t think would be geared towards children including the Titanic and the war.

Linda Granfield rounded out the day by presenting the closing keynote, but she told us not to make any notes, so I didn’t. Ha!

I had my first critique after all these talks by an agent. I have never been brave enough to do one, but I decided to go outside of my comfort zone. The agent was positive about my story overall and gave a few suggestions, but best of all she asked for me to send her some more manuscripts. Yay!

What have you been up to lately?